Larry Lawrence (Williamsburg): Speakeasy

Larry Lawrence

  • Getting in: It’s easy to miss Larry Lawrence as it is located down a long, concrete hallway demarcated by one word, “Bar.”
  • Vibe/layout: Before 11pm, this bar is nearly always deserted, but it does eventually fill up with people craving a quiet place to chat, drink and/or smoke, which you can do on the glassed-in upper-deck overlooking the bar. The earthy aspects of this bar, including the open, yet intimate space surrounded by brick, wood-paneling and custom furniture, give it a “ski-lodge” sort of feel. This spacious spot is dimly lit, stylish and sleek. On the ground floor, smoothly carved bar stools and wooden booths mark the perimeter, leaving a large amount of floor space for bigger crowds.
  • Drinks: Beers, wines, cocktails, shots… anything… it’s all about the atmosphere here.
  • F.Y.I.: This speakeasy is named after the owner’s childhood friend.
  • Straunt tip: Eat dinner at Caracas Arepa Bar next door, grab a drink at Larry Lawrence and then head to St.Mazie for another drink
  • Address: Williamsburg, 295 Grand St (between Havemeyer & Roebling St)
  • Prices: $4-$16

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East Pole (UES): Brunch

East Pole UES Brunch

  • Why it’s worth it: East Pole is the perfect combination of Upper East Side elegance and downtown fun, making it a great brunch spot for family or family friends. The ‘straunt is charming and the food is delicious and pretty to look at (which means the portions are small, but well-plated).
  • Vibe/Layout: This ‘straunt is housed in a historic brownstone and features outdoor tables and a dining room brightened by a skylight. The main dining room and bar are timeless, sophisticated and clean with whitewashed brick walls, vintage maps and subtle nautical accents. The tables, floors and ceilings are a mix of wood and plaster and lit with individual candles.
  • Ideal meal: Banana bread (and apple butter) to start ($10); Belgian corn & ricotta waffles, Phillips Farm Blueberries ($18)
  • F.Y.I.: Ben Towill and Phil Winser, owners of the Fat Radish, teamed up with Tom and Anthony Martignetti, proprietors of Brinkley’s, to open this UES ‘straunt. In addition, the nautical maps you see on the walls are from the Winser family’s personal collection.
  • Address: UES, 133 East 65th St (between Lex & Park)
  • Prices: $7-$25

The East Pole on Urbanspoon

ABC Kitchen (Union Sq)

So, your parents are visiting you in NYC in 2 weeks and instruct you to make brunch, lunch or dinner reservations… what do you do? Immediately go to Opentable and make a reservation at ABC Kitchen.

ABC Kitchen

  • Why it’s worth it: This ‘straunt is located at the ABC Carpet & Home department store, which means you can browse trendy chandeliers and other items before heading to the bar…but back to the restaurant, this is how I would like to eat at my fancy country house, if I had a fancy country house.
  • Vibe/layout: The vibe is organic and Hamptons, airy, open and relaxed. The theme is sustainability, as most things on the menu come from local suppliers; the menus are made from recycled paper, the dun-colored place mats are compostable and after closing time, all leftovers are sent off to the compost heap. Everything, including the antique armoires, reclaimed-wood tables, clay dishware, chandeliers and wildflower table settings are gathered from local artisans in CT, NY and NJ.
  • Ideal meal: House made ricotta ravioli, herbs and tomato sauce ($15) or akaushi cheeseburger ($24)
  • F.Y.I.: We recommend making reservations 10 days in advance, as this is a Jean-George Vongerichten ‘straunt.
  • For the artsy ‘straunters: Among the local artists and artisans who contributed to this ‘straunt’s decor are Jan Burtz (handmade porcelain plates), Jim Denney (recycle-wood tables), Eric Slayton (steel and concrete art installations) and Elena Lyakir (abstract nature photography).
  • Address: Union Square/Flatiron/Gramercy, 35 East 18th St (between Broadway and Park)
  • Prices: $8-$39

ABC Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Tartine (West Village): French Brunch/Lunch

Tartine

  • Why it’s worth it: This corner-store sized, charmingly petite cafe serves simple, delicious and inexpensive French fare, not to mention the best croque madame we’ve ever had (and yes we’ve been to France). You’ll know Tartine by the green awning, sidewalk tables and notoriously long lines on the weekends.
  • Vibe/Layout: Tartine has all of about 15 seats and has been in the neighborhood for two decades, making it a cozy and homey go-to spot. Don’t expect much leg room though, especially if you score a table on the sidewalk.
  • Ideal meal: Croque madame ($14) or croque monsieur ($14)
  • When to go: If you have a random day off from work, or work in the area, head to Tartine for lunch or for a darling croissant.
  • ‘Straunt tip: BYOB alert! … But it gets better….there’s no corkage fee either!
  • Address: West Village, 253 West 11th St (corner of West 4th St)
  • Prices: $8-$25

Tartine on Urbanspoon

Pappardella (UWS): Mangia Monday

Pappardella

  • Why it’s worth it: If you’re craving Italian on the UWS, Pappardella is a great, consistent, classy, family spot. I’m not usually an eggplant gal, but Pappardella’s eggplant was melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
  • Vibe/Layout: This open and charming ‘straunt features twenty-foot ceilings, French doors and a beautiful mural of Florence. White table cloths and wooden chairs are only background details to the fresh homemade pasta that will blind side you.
  • Ideal meal: Melanzane parmigiano (eggplant parm, $13) to start & gnocchi pesto ($19)
  • ‘Straunt tip: Pappardella is a great dinner option after taking a stroll in Central Park or checking out the Natural History Museum. They also have great GF options!
  • Address: Upper West Side, 316 Columbus Ave (75th St)
  • Prices: $7-$26

Pappardella on Urbanspoon

Jack’s Wife Freda (Soho)

Jack's Wife Freda

  • Why it’s worth it: Trust us. Jack’s Wife Freda is worth the wait. We’d agree with NY Magazine who dubbed the food “South African Israeli Jewish Grandmother Cuisine.” Helpful right? But after reading about the owners, you’ll understand why.
  • Vibe/layout: This quaint 40-seat restaurant rocks dark-green leather banquettes, marble counters and wooden tables. This is not a quiet, little date spot; this a fun-loving brunch and dinner spot for the young, the old, the trendy and the free-spirited…aka all people. The food is homey, delicious and satisfying.
  • Ideal meal: Fried zucchini chips ($8) to share & Madame Freda ($13) (pressed sandwich with duck prosciutto, cheddar bechamel, gruyere & a fried egg)
  • The people behind the ‘straunt: Before Dean Jankelowitz and his wife, Maya met working at Keith McNally’s Balthazar, they both emigrated from South Africa and Israel, respectively. Together, they’ve created an amazing restaurant that is named after Dean’s grandparents, Jack and Freda. (FYI- Man Repeller, a popular fashion blog,  did an amazing piece on their fantastic love story. If you haven’t had time to check out this ‘straunt yet, then read this and fall in love with the owners first.)
  • Address: Soho, 224 Lafayette St (between Broome & Spring)
  • Prices: $5-$25

Jack's Wife Freda on Urbanspoon

The Meatball Shop: Mangia Monday

When you’re looking for an apartment in NYC, make sure you not only check the distance to the nearest subway, but also to the nearest Meatball Shop. We’re serious.

The Meatball Shop

  • Why it’s worth it: You know those times you just really crave balls. Get your mind out of the gutter – I’m not talking about R-rated balls, just some tender, sauce lathered meatballs, over some delicious pasta and topped with shaved parmesan. The Meatball Shop is our go-to spot with visitors and friends… because there are options for everyone.
  • Vibe/layout: This ‘straunt, no matter the location, is trendy and dimly lit, bumping hip hop through the speakers, serving homemade ice cream sandwiches and creating masterpiece meatballs.
  • Ideal meal/”The Usual”: 4 chicken balls with classic tomato sauce ($8) over rigatoni ($5) with family jewels (fried egg; $1) and a chicken pesto meatball slider ($3)
  • F.Y.I.: This ‘straunt neither takes reservations nor delivers… it’s that good.
  • Addresses:
  •  Prices: $5-$11 per item

North River Lobster Company (Hell’s Kitchen)

Yes, we have to ditch our white pants… and yes, we have to store our summer shoes… but, no, we do not have to stop enjoying the beautiful weather, just because it’s past Labor Day! Therefore, we’ve got your fall denying days covered with this waterfront spot… that actually leaves the dock: North River Lobster Company.

North River Lobster Company

  • Why it’s worth it: Not only does this place serve amazing seafood/drinks, but this floating lobster shack also sets sail on the Hudson for a half hour every two hours (fo’ free!), so be sure to check the sail schedule before you plan your visit so you don’t get left ashore.
  • Vibe/layout: Board the boat and you’ll find numerous seating situations, both indoor and outdoor. There are three decks, but head immediately to the top one for the outdoor action. There’s no wait service, so be sure to stake your claim for some open-air seating, and then find a counter to order from. You will receive a buoy with your order number on it and your food will be delivered in a matter of minutes!
  • Ideal meal: Pitcher of sangria ($34), lobster roll ($18), fries ($5)
  • The inspiration: New York Cruise Lines, Inc. CEO, Sam Cooperman, says he was inspired by two things: history and a lasting memory of Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco. The self-proclaimed “history buff” says he became fascinated by the lobster palace craze of the early 1900s, in which grand and ornate restaurants dotted 42nd St and served lobster as the main fare, as it was the most important food of the social time.
  • Straunt tip: Grab lunch or a drink at North River and then grab dessert (a funfettti cookie) at Schmackary’s.
  • Address: Hell’s Kitchen, Pier 81, 41st St and 12th Ave
  • Prices: $5-$29

North River Lobster Company on Urbanspoon

Manducatis (LIC): Mangia Monday

Manducatis LIC

  • Why it’s worth it: From the outside, Manducatis doesn’t even look like a restaurant, but as you will learn, you don’t go here for a trendy or romantic vibe; you go here for the pasta and the history.
  • Vibe/layout: The front room contains a bar and looks more like a rec room with a bunch of boxes than a restaurant; however, the rest of this ‘straunt feels like one big living room, complete with lace curtains, houseplants and a wood-burning fireplace. This ‘straunt has been hosting curators, sculptors and painters from P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center for over 30 years. Usually a place would frame photos of famous/favorite customers on the wall; however, in Manducatis’ case, the reverse happened: P.S. 1 exhibited 11 candid black-and-white photographs of the Cerbone couple taken by Howard Gross.
  • Ideal meal: Ricotta gnocchi with pesto or red sauce and mozzarella ($18)
  • The story:  Operated since 1977 and owned by Italian immigrants, Vincenzo and Ida Cerbone and now their son, Anthony, Manducatis is as unique as it gets. Ida, the cook, learned her skills in Italy and makes her gnocchi with ricotta, not potato. The food comes out on large plates that bear the black-and-white childhood photograph of chef and co-owner, Ida. When the Cerbones got married, Vincenzo had the plates made, so customers are essentially eating off of the Cerbones’ wedding dishes. Talk about a personal touch.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Check out a Moma PS1 Warm Up party, then head to Manducatis for a bite to eat and then to Dutch Kills, the speakeasy down the street, for a drink.
  • Address: Long Island City, 13-27 Jackson Ave (47th & Jackson)
  • Prices: $18

Manducatis on Urbanspoon

Mulberry Project (Little Italy): Speakeasy

Mulberry Project Little Italy Speakeasy

  • Getting in: On a strip of Little Italy mostly known for its red-sauce Italian ‘straunts and cannoli vendors, The Mulberry Project hides from sight, behind a recessed red door below street level. Reservations for the backyard are recommended and on weekends a doorman will stand outside past 10pm.
  • Vibe/layout: This speakeasy is stylish without being pretentious. The interior is small, long and narrow with a few choice black leather booths along one wall and bright red metal bar stools at the bar. The bright crimson mural created by Kurtis Kulig (aka LoveMe at the Ace Hotel) highlights the speakeasy’s focal point, the bar, transforming it into a “stage” for cocktail craftsmanship. The dim lighting and color scheme, along with the industrial lamps dangling from the low ceiling, illuminate the energy and focus of this speakeasy: cocktails. In the summer, the back graffiti-decorated garden and patio is open (and is AMAZING).
  • Drinks: Order a custom-crafted cocktail. Period. I chose the ingredients of my drink from the chalkboard menu, my poison, desired flavors (sweet, spicy, sour, etc) and a selection of fresh fruit, et voila! My vodka-based mango cocktail with a bit of fizz was delicious! The combinations will vary from day-to-day and bartender to bartender, but the cocktails are all beautifully executed.
  • F.Y.I.: A collection of nightlife all-stars (Milk & Honey, Boom Boom Room, Surf Lodge, Bagatelle, RdV) reinvented their cocktails, menu and decor with this speakeasy.
  • Address: Little Italy, 149 Mulberry St (Mulberry & Grand)
  • Prices: Cocktails are around $15

The Mulberry Project on Urbanspoon